back to article Microsoft frees Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 from the shackles of, er, Windows?

Microsoft has crept closer to the next version of Windows 10, 2004, and revealed the thankful news that the dev-friendly Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 will not require a full-on OS update for those all important kernel tweaks. Senior program manager of the Windows Insider Program, Brandon LeBlanc, announced the emission of …

  1. fnusnu

    Now for Onedrive for Linux!

    1. Chewi

      Think bigger

      How about support for OneDrive as a root filesystem? :P

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Or bigger still..

        ... when the Linux becomes the prime system kernel and Windows merely an optional desktop alongside Gnome, KDE and XFCE.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Martin Gregorie - Re: Or bigger still..

          Aren't you dreaming a little bit too much ? I don't think this is what's on Microsoft's mind.

          1. Evil3eaver

            Re: @Martin Gregorie - Or bigger still..

            Microsoft makes more money from cloud services than they do on OS (mutiples more) so it isn't too much a stretch to think that they could sell the windows shell as gui for linux... if that came with a Microsoft version of Wine/DXVK then I would have zero problems paying the same price I do for windows but have a base OS that I have control over.

            IMHO I would rather this than having all these silo's working on kernels instead of having what we currently have two major camps (Unix/Linux) that are very similar in how they work (often it means fixes for one are almost carbon copies for the other) and the one odd one out Microsoft with their very own (unique) kernel.

            There would be less security issues over time and rock solid OS stability (GUI's may crash but the base OS is still functioning, and can recover from it without total BSOD explody stuff you get with Windows.)

            That said I would prefer that MS chooses Linux instead of BSD just because of its free/Open nature but they would probably choose the later like Apple for obvious reasons. I would still be okay with it and probably buy it anyway... mind you VM's with HW passthrough would be less of a pain getting to work reliably :)...

            1. Missing Semicolon

              Re: @Martin Gregorie - Or bigger still..

              So that explains systemd....

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Martin Gregorie - Or bigger still..

              > That said I would prefer that MS chooses Linux instead of BSD just because of its free/Open nature

              You'd prefer they chose linux because of BSD's free/open nature?

              Weird.

              No, I know what you mean, however a more restrictive license doesn't make something more free, it makes it less free.

              And as for the FUD, just look at how much of the FreeBSD svn logs contain updates from third party contributions... particularly Netflix https://svnweb.freebsd.org/base/?view=log

            3. Aegrotatio

              Re: @Martin Gregorie - Or bigger still..

              This is running in an optimized Hyper-V virtual machine. It's not Linux-on-Windows anymore like it was originally intended, which is just like Windows-on-Windows works. They have abandoned the Linux-on-Windows approach because in order to update anything they had to use the Windows Update channels, and they were tired of waiting. That's too bad because the Windows NT environment was designed to have these software abstractions like WoW and WoW64, even OS/2 on Windows before that was abandoned.

              So, now, WSL is just another boring and lame virtual machine on a stripped-down and optimized version of Hyper-V. Oh, and there are no accelerated graphics in Hyper-V, by the way.

        2. nojava

          Re: Or bigger still..

          Windows will just become another shell.

        3. Mike Pellatt

          Re: Or bigger still..

          Nice idea, but fixing all the edge cases from the differing filesystem semantics will be challenging. Not to say it's impossible, but...

        4. Sil

          Re: Or bigger still..

          Not a good idea.

          Windows supports vastly more drivers and equipments and has a huge backward compatibility.

  2. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

    Fully functional Linux embedded within MS Windows presents opportunity for enterprise, public sector, education, and individuals, all currently in thrall to Microsoft, to explore and evaluate alternative non-proprietary software without trauma of full system change with possibly expensive reversion should the outcome be unsatisfactory.

    For instance, staff time could be set aside for training/practice in use of alternative software without necessity of leaving their own workstations. If Linux fits the bill then Windows can be abandoned with minimal fuss. Whichever Linux distribution best meets collective needs could be adopted; for corporate entities consideration of cost and quality of external support should be factored in.

    There is a collection of Linux graphical user interfaces to chose among and most work with almost every Linux distribution; many offer simplicity and lack of clutter found in Windows; thus transition from the Windows interface to an alternative should flow smoothly when people are already familiar with the new applications they will be using; all they need learn is how to invoke software i.e. where to find the menu and/or task bar.

    1. Roo

      Re: Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

      "Fully functional Linux embedded within MS Windows presents opportunity for enterprise, public sector, education, and individuals, all currently in thrall to Microsoft, to explore and evaluate alternative non-proprietary software without trauma of full system change with possibly expensive reversion should the outcome be unsatisfactory."

      Strictly speaking that has been possible for a very long time - whether it be by CD, USB stick, VNC or whatever. The only material difference here is that you've got Microsoft embracing and extending Linux - and subjecting it to the hit and miss joy of Windows Update. I don't expect much to change, people have got over the shock of Phone apps and Web apps now, and that is pretty much going to kill off the majority of the Windows desktop market (for better or worse) - this is simply Microsoft trying to stay relevant to server side developers.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

      > to explore and evaluate alternative non-proprietary software

      If customers want to use a free operating system while paying Microsoft for Office365, cloud and support services I don't think any shareholders in Redmond would be upset.

      In fact if Microsoft kept all the profitable service operations while axing the expensive "writing and supporting an OS" operation they would be laughing all the way to the Lamborghini dealership

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

      You *did* consider your words before posting them, correct? That companies should use paid work hours to experiment with which version of a free OS to choose, then experiment with which free UI to use overlaid on said free OS, in order to experiment with which free program to choose to attempt to replace a currently working environment, all accomplished by workers using set-aside paid work time.

      While still getting the business of their company done, on schedule.

      ...and Linux-heads wonder why large-scale implementation of "Linux on the Desktop" still remains a decades-old fantasy :rolleyes:

      :sigh: You're still not getting it. Hopefully my pointing out the paid timeline of your proposed Linux rollout, when their current (Microsoft-based) workflow gets their jobs done, will help you see the problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Snake - Re: Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

        I'm a Linux fan but this doesn't stop me from agreeing with what you say. Companies had at least two decades to explore the world of a free and open source OS, still they didn't bother doing it and they will never do. Not even if Microsoft itself pushes Linux instead of Windows on all PCs on the planet.

        There is a reasonable chance this might happen in China, Russia, North Korea and possibly Iran who are not / should not be comfortable running an OS controlled by a nation not-so-friendly towards them.

        In conclusion, you don't deserve the down-votes. You only stated the obvious.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

          >Companies had at least two decades to explore the world of a free and open source OS

          And they concluded that swapping Word for Emacs+Latex, Excel for R+Fortran and Powerpoint for Ascii-art+screen wasn't really viable.

          Now they are exploring swapping Office365 running on a chrome based browser running on an OS they pay for and has to be totally replaced when Redmond decides to end support - for running Office365 on a chrome based browser on a free OS with permanent support

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

            On most computers Windows 10 was/is a FREE upgrade from the OS that was fully integral to the initial cost of buying the hardware. OR Windows 10 is fully integral in the cost of the hardware they are buying NOW.

            You're still in DENIAL. Linux is NOT "free" because you [Linux] people constantly deprecate the value of the time and effort that you, personally, put into switching your desktop/private machine to it. You spend numerous dozens of hours, sometimes hundreds, picking the distro, installing the OS, configuring the hardware, getting the driver issues sorted for new or specialized components, configuring the UI to your tastes, trying out new software workflows, choosing your preferred work combinations, migrating data, integrating the computer into existing network architectures...

            It goes on and on. But your time is somehow "free" because the OS is "free".

            Not in a business it isn't. So switching to a "free" OS for many businesses is STUPID because they are intelligent enough to do a *complete* ROI on the FULL migration investment, not just the OS cost, and see the real picture: they already have Windows and, gripes and all, it works RIGHT NOW and gets the necessary solutions. FOSS is a complete unknown and requires, at the MINIMUM, an investment in resources AND funds just to see if it'll work for them without incurring a massive productivity penalty.

            So Windows wins by default. It's there, it's working, it came with the computer, Microsoft upgraded it free...AND our software, the stuff we use TODAY, works. FOSS? None of that applies, it's an unknown.

            But the FOSS obsessed simply don't want to hear that. They put their fingers in their ears, don't want to listen to the businesspeople saying "No, not really", and simply stand there proclaiming The Faith. 20 years of desktop stagnation...but me, and everyone ELSE, is wrong.

            "Free" isn't "Free" if the costs are just hidden behind the tech curtain.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Snake - Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

              You do know the word "free" is not about costs, do you ?

              Somewhere in your rant you missed the fact that it's not the OS that is free, it's the end-user that is free. For a company end-user freedom is irrelevant so Linux versus Windows is an easy choice. And it has been like that for a long time.

              Didn't give you any vote since there are parts of your posts I agree with and others that I don't.

            2. Mike Pellatt

              Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

              You've fallen into the classic misunderstanding of the word "free" in F/OSS, and consequently setup a strawman.

              Repeat after me:

              "Free as in speech, not free as in beer"

              Notwithstanding this being a strawman, I will offer a counter-argument, I can show you numerous cases of a supplier's promises not having due diligence applied to them, and the time and effort (along with at least some of the purchase/licensing costs) being wasted.

              I'd also posit that applying full due diligence and fit-for-purpose tests to commercial software is not that different from the costs of considering F/OSS.

              1. Snake Silver badge

                Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

                "You've fallen into the classic misunderstanding of the word "free" in F/OSS, and consequently setup a strawman.

                Repeat after me:

                "Free as in speech, not free as in beer"

                And that's why you people are not only DEAD WRONG but proven so with a 2.7% desktop adoption rate .

                "FOSS is about freedom of speech" is the most ridiculous position I've ever heard someone (attempt) to take. NEWS FLASH: business decisions are almost NEVER about freedom of speech. Business decisions are weighed against money - costs - and benefits. NOT afoot if the user-employees will feel some theoretical "freedom of speech!!" as they sit in front of their workstations doing the jobs they are being paid for.

                Do you actually listen to yourselves as you attempt to present your arguments??! Go ahead,make a presentation to a business owner using your FOSS talking points, freedom of speech, "free" OS, and everything else you've presented here. Let's see how you do.

                Oh, I'm sorry - FOSS has already been doing so for 20 years.

                Not successful, are you??

                1. Roo
                  Windows

                  Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

                  "And that's why you people are not only DEAD WRONG but proven so with a 2.7% desktop adoption rate ."

                  Not even sure why you care so much about it, desktops are going the way of the dodo.

            3. Adrian Midgley 1

              Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

              OEM Windows isn't free

              1. Snake Silver badge

                Re: Windows isn't free

                The *point* being is that's it's included in the price of the preconfigured hardware as purchased. It is not "free" but it is "invisible", just as ABS isn't "free" but part-and-parcel of the entire package. It is the cost of driving now, just as having an OS is the cost of personal computing - and most people pick a PAID OS because of support.

                Computers comes preconfigured and fully operational from the supplier with the OS included. If something goes Boom! you have someone to hold responsible, someone to call, not 'just go on the internet forum and ask for help!' and hope that, maybe in the next 2 days or so (?), you'll find someone to help you fix your problem.

                No? A "free OS" is the solution, regardless of the fact that paid-for Red Hat is the most popular Linux distro for servers out there?

                You're still missing the point. All you FOSS heads just LOVE missing the point or redirecting it to service your own agenda. A $70 to $100 included-OS fee is irrelevant on a hardware purchase if that fee is necessary to get the device servicing the necessary projects. Very few people, after spending $800 to $3000 on a workstation, try to figure out the OS value of the purchase (maybe $60 or less for the licensing at Dell-level volumes?) and then try to penny-pinch their way into saving some money there.

                And Red Hat is proof that the same qualifications apply to servers: not many businesses will go out and drop $10,000 to $60,000 on a server, only to hear the PFY say "Hey, there's this free OS, plenty of support from FORUMS, let's use that!"...and get a "Yes!" from management.

                It just isn't done except for the fanatic-level FOSS supporters who end up being, frankly, utterly contrarian - some people just use and fervently support Linux because it isn't 'The Man'. As Mark Shuttleworth notes

                https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/10/mark_shuttleworth_says_some_free_software_contributors_are_deeply_anti_social/

                The OS fee is pretty irrelevant if it means being able to run your software, solve your problems, and get your projects done. Period. End of story. You'll try to reply, to rewrite reality to service your personal...agenda...but you can't, although you'll downvote me, answer me back, and try anyway. The Linux desktop market share is tiny and will always stay tiny because FOSS-heads miss this strategic point: it's not the OS, it's the software, stupid. I've been saying that for DECADES after trying/using Linux myself (ooh, didn't know that I did, huh??) but you guys just won't listen, you'd rather try to tell everyone how right you are.

              2. dajames Silver badge

                Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

                OEM Windows isn't free

                The copy of Windows that comes with a newly-purchased PC may, in fact, be "free" (as in beer), because the OEM has covered the cost of the Windows licence with payments from software vendors for all the trial and demo software that is included in the image.

                Which is fine, if you're going to wipe the disk and install Linux, but a PITA if you wanted a clean copy of Windows!

            4. Ken 16 Silver badge

              Support

              If a company has a supported application on a supported platform then it won't pay to change.

              Supported Linux costs about the same as supported Windows Server.

              Regression testing an application...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Yet Another Anonymous coward - Re: @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

            Swapping Office 365 is easy but it's not only that. Add to this automated deployment and management of workstations, Active Directory, GPOs and all that stuff which will require significant effort/$$$$ to implement in Linux. You can't just port them, you'll have to re-implement them from scratch. It's just too late, unless it's a matter of life and death like it's the case of countries affected by US economical (and in the future military) sanctions.

            1. Roo
              Windows

              Re: @Yet Another Anonymous coward - @Snake - Microsoft shooting itself in the foot?

              It's actually pretty easy under Linux too. :)

              You run the heavyweight processing on Linux servers (because it is actually a lot cheaper to run at 10-100K node scale all your weird rants about FOSS aide), set a few aside for hosting Windows as guest VMs. Put 10-100K (Linux) remote desktop terminals on people's desks and they really don't care or notice the difference. It's not rocket science, and it's being done - at a lot of large multinationals.

  3. Elledan Bronze badge

    WSL versus running Linux in a VM

    The main use case which I had for WSL was while doing cross-platform development, as well as embedded development using a Linux-only build chain. As my preferred OS is Windows (because of its coherent set of APIs and singular desktop environment), I had previously used virtual machines running $Linux for this development. After switching to a new work laptop with Windows 10, I decided to use WSL instead of VMs. With the device-passthrough (for USB serial interfaces, etc.) it saved me the trouble of firing up a VM.

    To me that is a nice use of WSL. Yet it comes with the caveat of only being able to run a single $Linux. When I look at the list of VMs that I have in VirtualBox right now, it covers the whole gamut of $Linux, from $Debian (Mint, Ubuntu, Raspbian, straight Debian) to $Arch (mostly Manjaro) to more exotic $Linux like Alpine Linux. One may also have RedHat/Fedora/CentOS in that list.

    The thing there is namely that $Linux =/= $Linux unless it is the exact same distribution or at the very least same lineage. Not every $Linux uses the same start-up scripts & service manager, standard shell, or has the same standard library, or same default libraries installed. Many use a different package manager or other quirks that mean that one has to test on that $Linux and not another.

    In my experience, this is where WSL (2) should really be treated as as 'Microsoft Linux', and shows clearly where the limits lie. For my uses as an (embedded) developer, the VM-based approach suits me fine, giving me the full power of Windows (as host), Linux and whatever other OS I may install in its own full-featured virtual system.

    I imagine that this 'Microsoft Linux' may fit the use cases for a number of folk out there, however.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

      Which singular desktop of Windows? There have been so many over the years. I understand you did finally get multiple workspaces.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

        Nitpuck: Windows has had multiple workspaces for about 25 years. No-one noticed because you have to be a propellor-head to actually want them.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

          No, you just have to do stuff. I don't know if you include researching and writing local history as propeller head but I'm quite likely to have browser and email open on one workspace, a PDF of, say JYAS or one of the YAS Record Series open on another, together with my little utility for fixing up crap OCR and whatever editor I'm taking notes on and the article I'm writing on another. Much cheaper and more practical than running multiple monitors.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

            it Doesn’t replace multiple monitors at all for me. Absolutely nowhere near.

            I use both spaces and monitors and there’s no way spaces can replace having two remote desktops open side by side.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

              Multiple monitors don't work well with a laptop on the lap. Or on the tiny table at the grandkids' tennis club when I'm waiting to pick them up - although that one's suspended for the duration.

    2. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

      A third option windows docker host with linux guests. (docker requires hyperv).

      wsl does not support sbus and services and filesystem write is painfully slow.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Elledan - Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

      You're right, it's quit a trouble firing up a VM.

    4. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: WSL versus running Linux in a VM

      So... just enough of the nice tools to stop people going to a vm but not enough (or possibly stable enough) to migrate away from windows?

      Colour me shocked.

      I have issues with windows’ lack of free tools, but I have more concerns over ms business practices.

      Cloud lock-in is real and it is worse than os lock-in. For some reason management can’t see it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cats and dogs living together, it truly is the end of days and I'm out of toilet paper.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Coat

      Use a cat. They're nice and soft - if you avoid the clawry bits. Pick a tortoiseshell one and no-one will notice. You don't have to put them in the wash, either, as they self clean. Very environmentally friendly.

      My coat? Yes, it's that sloth.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        But cats are the worst type of personally. They are your best friends when they want something then treat you like shit when they don’t. Plus they are as thick as mince.

        Signed, person who has a bastard cat livin in his house.

  5. Evil3eaver
    Facepalm

    But excessive diarrhea is not one of the symptoms.

    BTW here is my new escape room, what you think:

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/img.kh-labs.com/eRbXvs5e2fa8a0349ed4.02691959

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: But excessive diarrhea is not one of the symptoms.

      I clicked that link. Who do I send the Bitcoin to to unlock my files?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But excessive diarrhea is not one of the symptoms.

        If your computer can be compromised just by clicking on a link, it's already game over.

      2. Evil3eaver

        Re: But excessive diarrhea is not one of the symptoms.

        I'll take TP not BTC thank you very much ... I'm making a killing ;)

  6. ST Silver badge
    Devil

    Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

    There's an app for that.

    It's called 'Fedora | RedHat | SuSE | OpenSUSE | Ubuntu | etc'

    And it doesn't involve Microsoft, or Windows, or Subsystems. It just gets straight to the point.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

      hopefully doesn't involve WAYLAND nor SYSTEMD, either...

      (/me adds 'Devuan' and 'FreeBSD' to your list)

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    No Thanks

    I still can't shake the idea that this is the "Encapsulate" phase of Microsoft's four E way of dealing with competition.

    Embrace

    Encapsulate

    Extend

    Extinguish

  8. bombastic bob Silver badge
    WTF?

    "an issue that could stop ActiveX content loading"

    WHY in the HELL are they STILL SUPPORTING THIS?

    WHY has it NOT been NUKED from HIGH ORBIT along with FLASH ???

    (YES. STOP ActiveX CONTENT from LOADING - by STOPPING ActiveX !!!)

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: "an issue that could stop ActiveX content loading"

      I tend to agree: "an issue that could stop ActiveX content loading" sounds like progress to me; have an upvote. No need to shout, though.

  9. Aegrotatio

    It downgrades VirtualBox to use Hyper-V, and with that change NO ACCELERATED GRAPHICS.

  10. Slabfondler

    The time has finally come!

    For Linux on the Desktop....um, well a Windows desktop, but still, it's a desktop, and it's got Linux running.

    Yes, that's all tongue in cheek, but on the other hand, I find it very encouraging to know I can run all sort of cool stuff in Linux on a Windows machine should I need to.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: The time has finally come!

      One reason I'm typing this on a Mac is that it's a *NIX with a native port of MS Office.

      The hardware on this MBP is (mostly*) lovely, but it's an expensive way for for my employer to get the above. They could decide to give us WSL2/Win10 and give us the Corporate Standard laptop and save a chunk on hardware costs.

      * So far the keyboard is still working!

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